You may have heard the recent debate about fluoride vs fluoride-free toothpaste. Confused on where you stand? We’re here to help! Both types of toothpastes offer their own benefits, and here at EarthHero, we offer both. Join us below as we dive into what fluoride is, and what it means to have it in your toothpaste or tooth tablets!
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in the Earth, your bones, and your teeth. Abundant in Earth’s crust, fluoride is also found naturally in water, soil, plants, rocks, and even the air. Fluoride is widely used synthetically in dental products because it strengthens enamel (aka the outer layer of your teeth) and helps to prevent cavities. It can also prevent the growth of harmful oral bacteria, and reverse early signs of tooth decay.
What are its side effects?
So it’s natural, seems harmless right? In small quantities maybe, but large doses can cause unpleasant side effects and in extreme cases even death. For example, ingesting half of a tube of toothpaste could kill a child if not appropriately dealt with. This is why children’s toothpaste usually don’t contain fluoride, as young children can’t be trusted to spit it out.
Additionally, dental fluorosis can occur when you consume too much fluoride while your teeth are still under your gums, causing white spots on the surface of your teeth. This generally only occurs in young children as their permanent teeth are in the process of growing in, and only if they’re exposed to too much fluoride.
You may be thinking: the tiny amount of toothpaste you put on your toothbrush every morning and night couldn’t possibly contain enough fluoride to cause any harm! That may be true, but toothpaste isn’t the only place fluoride is commonly found.
Fluoride is added to some tap water in the USA, it is in most mouthwashes, and is naturally found in small concentrations in foods such as spinach, grapes, potatoes, and more. Only exposure to very high concentrations is when the effects of fluoride become potentially dangerous.
What are the environmental concerns?
The thing with fluoride is, the vast majority (if not all) of fluoride used for oral care is sodium fluorine, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring calcium fluorine. The effects of large quantities of industrial fluoride can cause damage to plants, animals, and entire ecosystems – most times coming from industrial wastewater runoff. That said, when fluoride is produced and sourced ethically, and sustainably managed to reduce industrial wastewater runoff, this becomes less of an issue. Many types of production have environmental concerns that must be appropriately managed to protect the planet!
What are the benefits of fluoride?
Although fluoride in very high doses can be dangerous for human health, there are a ton of reasons to use fluoride in small doses in your oral care routine. Studies have shown that topical exposure to fluoride is the most effective cavity prevention treatment available today. As the bacteria in your mouth is breaking down the sugars and carbs you’re eating throughout the day, they produce acids that chip away at the minerals in your tooth enamel that protect against cavities. This process is called demineralization. Fluoride acts as a remineralization agent to prevent cavities and tooth decay, but it’s not your only option. According to a study done by British Dental Journal an organic compound found in chocolate, called theobromine, works as a remineralizing agent similar to fluoride (eating chocolate AND strengthening your teeth?! WIN-WIN) On a more serious note, because we can’t clean our teeth with chocolate, there is a wide range of other safe, natural alternatives to fluoride that still get the job done! Xylitol is an awesome option, because it provides a protective coating to your teeth that cavity-causing bacteria cannot process.
The choice is completely up to you! Some people prefer fluoride, which has many benefits around cavity prevention and enamel protection, while some prefer fluoride-free, another awesome option with different benefits. Let’s dive into some of our favorite fluoride and fluoride free products below!
What fluoride free options should I use?
Apart from fluoride, there are many other chemicals found in conventional toothpastes. Choosing natural oral care, whether it contains fluoride or not, is overall the safer, less toxic route – and many natural oral care brands also use sustainable packaging (win, win!). Check out some of our favorite fluoride-free brands below!
Georganics is awesome because they use all-natural ingredients and don’t contain any fluoride, SLS, or glycerin. They’re vegan and certified cruelty free, and offer plastic free packaging that is easy to recycle! From toothpaste tabs to mouthwash tablets or classic tooth paste, they’re sure to have a natural option you’ll love to use! Georganics comes in a wide variety of flavors, including some like orange that younger kiddos will love.
Davids is fluoride free as well, and uses 98% USA origin ingredients that are sulfate free and SLS free to boot! It comes in a recyclable metal tube, and includes a metal tube key to ensure you can get all of the toothpaste out easily. Plus, it’s whitening, anti-plaque and gives you fresh breath! It also comes in travel sizes, which makes it great for on-the-go. The flavors are relatively mild, but leave you with fresh breath and polished teeth. Plus, Davids products are made in the USA!
RADIUS not only sells toothpaste, but also toothbrushes made from a variety of eco-friendly materials, floss, and other oral care accessories. Their toothpaste is certified USDA Organic, and contains no chemicals, pesticides, and of course, fluoride. It instead relies on erythritol and xylitol – natural plaque fighting ingredients. They even have dog toothpaste for your canine pals, and kid-friendly flavors!
What fluoride options should I use?
Zero waste, vegan, cruelty free, and made without preservatives, SLS, sodium saccharin, artificial colors, aluminum or nanoparticles, brand UNPASTE is an amazing option for tooth tablets containing fluoride. Although they do have a fluoride-free version too, we love their fluoride version for its ability to reduce the ability for tartar and plaque build up, and prevent cavities. Plus, they are certified by BDIH, non-profit trade organization which certifies natural cosmetic products for their ingredients and production methods, and are certified for oral hygiene safety and efficacy by the Aktion-zahnfreundlich e.V., a German organization. One packet contains 125 tablets, which can replace a ton of single-use plastic toothpaste bottles!
Now that you know all about fluoride, it’s up to you to make the choice that is right for your lifestyle! Fluoride or no fluoride, it’s important to brush twice a day and floss regularly! No matter which way you go, find oral care products that are using better ingredients, minimal plastic packaging, and are committed to ethical production. Check out all of our oral care products here. Let us know in the comments below: are you pro fluoride or anti fluoride?
This blog post was originally published on March 23, 2020 and was most recently updated on October 27, 2022.